Lab Developing Efficient New Window Coating


Liquid crystals are responsible for many flat-screen TVs and other displays, but researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are developing a way for the same technology to make windows more efficient.

Professors Ivan Smalyukh and Ronggui Yang are heading up the team at CU-Boulder’s Smalyukh Research Group, a lab that works primarily with “soft condensed matter and optical physics,” according to its website. Their liquid crystal research has led them to develop a coating that they hope can be applied to older windows, increasing their insulating properties without requiring replacement.

Earlier this year, the team received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the development of the coating material. According to Engineering News-Record, the grant officially began Monday (August 1).

Aerogel Technology

The idea is to use an ultralight “aerogel,” in which the liquid in liquid crystals is replaced with air. The substance is then made up of cellulose and air, and can be applied to windows, creating a transparent insulating barrier.

“The material will be lightweight, insulating, mechanically stable, flexible and inexpensive,” said Smalyukh.

Adding to the environmentally friendly nature, the researchers say the aerogel is developed from “recycled” cellulose, derived from food industry waste.

Efficient and Easy to Apply

According to the CU-Boulder team, the coating will reduce energy loss from old single-pane windows by 50 percent without the cost of replacement. Their goal is to develop the product so that application is simple, so that homeowners can perform the task themselves.

“Buildings consume about 40 percent of the energy expended annually in the United States,” said Yang. “We think we can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of windows without compromising transparency and other functions.”


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building Envelope; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Energy efficiency; Fenestration; Latin America; North America; Research; U.S. Department of Energy; Windows

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